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3D Printing in September

This month, we begin our discussion of the world of 3D printing in Sierra Leone.

Longitudes reports on how the nation of Sierra Leone is using 3D printing in conjunction with data analytics to visualize information.

In fact, Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has just used “a 3D printer to create a map of his country, illustrating the distribution of the number of girls not attending primary school.”

Apparently, “the idea evolved over lunch at Sierra Leone’s State House, where senior government officials were discussing the status of education within the country.  The president wondered about ways in which existing complex data could be made more interpretable, so anyone could understand the challenges facing the education sector.”

Due to the lack of screens present at that discussion, it was difficult for everyone to fully participate.  Consequently, “the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), located in the State House, engaged immediately to calculate the distribution of out-of-school girls in each chiefdom and generated an accurate representation of the analyses in a 3D model.”

Following this, “President Bio 3D printed the model for use in a policy discussion with the head of the UK’s Department for International Development, Mary Hunt.”

As Hunt elaborates on the benefits of using such a 3D printed model: “the fact you can pick it up and turn it around to see different aspects of the map makes you feel like you are there – in Kenema, Kabala, or Bonthe – seeing the challenges in people’s lives and what needs to change.  I was drawn to its clarity and potential.  I had to ask the president if I could take it with me – I wanted to share it with others.”

President Bo and his government also printed several other models, including “a representation of the relative distances children must walk to access schools in their chiefdoms…and the ideal locations of new schools to be built.”

These models will prove to be immensely helpful in establishing which areas in his country have the most educational needs.

Elsewhere, 3D Print reports on a scintillating avian-themed story spilling out of Singapore.  Apparently, researchers at Jurong Bird Park have 3D printed a beak for a great hornbill bird.

This 22-year-old male great hornbill “was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the casque (or the bill).”  So, “researchers and veterinarians in Singapore began working together to create an artificial replacement.”  This was so they could “offer a better quality of life for the bird as a portion of the bone of his beak was cancerous – a common affliction for such birds, with medical treatment usually proving to be ‘unrewarding.’”

After they decided “to excise the tissue (as there were no signs of the cancer having metastasized), the researchers went on to design and 3D print a customized surgical guide for the procedure and then a prosthesis – allowing the bird to go forth as comfortably and naturally as possible.”

“The team decided to fit the 3D printed prosthesis after excision, taking great care to create a design identical to the beak in order to avoid any effect on acoustic functionality of the casque area.  Both the surgical guide and the prosthesis were created on an EOS P396 3D printer, with around 12 hours printing time required.”

The result?  Success!

According to the team: “observation of this bird in his usual captive environment suggests there is complete acceptance of the 3D printed prosthesis as part of its own body. This is evident from hornbill’s displaying natural coloration behavior, which coupled with the ability of the material used to take up biological pigments, enabled the prosthetic casque to appear similar in color and texture to the original rhinotheca.”

The team concludes, based on the outcome of this process, “medical imaging and 3D printing can be considered a useful approach in the design and production of customized surgical cutting guides and prostheses in veterinary surgery.”

Additionally, “collaboration between designers, engineers, and veterinarians throughout the design process can result in a customized prosthesis permitting natural behaviors with good acceptance.”

3D printing and its possibilities is not only impacting humans and birds on earth, though…

The International Business Times reports on a recent development made by NASA’s International Space Station (ISS).

Apparently, the ISS “has teamed up with a medical institute to explore the possibility of creating 3D-printed human organs in space. If successful, the study would revolutionize the fight against diseases.”

This initiative was spearheaded by the Director for the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine William Wagner.  The focus of Wagner and the ISS’s project “will be to create organs in space using stem cells”

As Wagner elaborates: “one of the possible early applications of 3D printing in the biomedical industry would be the creation of miniature versions of full-sized organs.  These small versions, which can handle a portion of the real organs’ functions, could be used to analyze exactly how they are affected by diseases.  In turn, pharmaceutical groups could turn to these 3D printed organs to develop specific disease-fighting drugs.”

Other applications could include “the creation of replacement organs.  This would certainly end the problem of donor shortages affecting organ transplants.”

Wagner hopes “this upcoming project, as well as future research regarding 3D printed organs, will gain enough financial support in order to push through and succeed.” It remains to be seen if the full funds will materialize for Wagner’s team and NASA.

Finally, 3D Printing Industry reports on biodegradable 3D printed Sandals created by Lucie Trejtnarova in conjunction with Fillamentum.

Trejtnarova, who is a postgraduate student at the Faculty of Multimedia Communication at Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic, teamed up with materials manufacturer Fillamentum. As a result of their collaboration, they have “developed the Organic 3D printed shoe collection.”

This shoe collection “was created in an effort to create sustainable footwear and accessories. The experimental sandal line integrates 3D printed outsoles from TPU-based Flexfill 98A, Malai, also known as coconut leather, and Piñatex, a natural fabric made from pineapple leaves.”

As Trejtnarova explains: “if I buy or make a product, it’s important to know the story behind it, how it can help somebody, and how it could disappear. We are responsible for each of our steps. Shoes from the Organic collection are based on a simple principle: at the end of their life, you can divide both parts, the upper in a compost and the sole you can recycle, to use again.”

Trejtnarova was inspired by “a trip to Southern India. During an internship at biomaterial design studio Malai Design & Materials, Trejtnarova was introduced to the raw materials Malai, which would help form the Organic footwear brand.”

“Malai is a 100% biodegradable material known to be flexible, durable, and water resistance. It is wholly natural from coconut with a texture comparable to leather. Furthermore, Piñatex, deriving from pineapple leaf fiber, an agricultural waste product, is used as an alternative for leather. With these materials, Trejtnarova chose to create sandals to suit the warm and wet conditions of India.”

Then all Trejtnarova needed was 3D printing: “I first got in touch with 3D model making and using 3D printers at the University, [which] was a completely new challenge for me.”

It would appear the challenge paid off.

Tune in next month for more 3D printing updates!

Image Courtesy of The International Business Times

Quotes Courtesy of Longitudes, 3D Print, The International Business Times, and 3D Printing Industry

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